A couple of weeks ago, LinkedIn announced a new version of its recruitment product, giving HR teams the ability to look for new hires that most closely match the profiles of employees they already know and like. But LinkedIn was not the first to use search technology, machine learning and so-called “entity recognition” to update and improve the hiring process. A much smaller startup called Connectifier launched a similar product earlier this year, and now it is announcing a fund raise of $6 million to continue building out its platform.
The Series B round was led by Goldcrest Capital, a backer of companies like Yammer, OpenGov and PracticeFusion. Previous investors include True Ventures and a number of others, with the company having raised $12 million since being founded in 2012, with the Series A closing only earlier this year.
Connectifier’s growth (and LinkedIn jumping into the game alongside it) underscores an evolution not just in recruitment software but in the bigger area of vertical search.
The crux of the change seems to be that, to be more competitive in areas where users are looking for something specific, those trying to meet that need are doing so by raising their game by using tech like machine learning, the latest advances in search and big data analytics to get the most accurate results. Other examples include SkyScanner in travel, Decide in e-commerce (acquired by eBay), or Topsy for Twitter search (acquired by Apple).
In the area of recruitment search, LinkedIn may be the bigger and more established company, but Connectifier is hoping to stand out by virtue of its product.
While LinkedIn is tapping its own database of 380 million+ users as its search pool, Connectifier — founded by ex-Googlers John Jersin and Benjamin McCann — has been trying something more ambitious and, well, Google-like.
“We have been working on some interesting things that we’d like to think we have done first,” Jersin said in an interview. “It’s flattering to think that LinkedIn may be taking cues from us.”
The company essentially crawls millions of pages of social networks and other sites that post public information from individuals, and about individuals, to build profiles of people, using a host of algorithms to sift out older pieces of info to give more emphasis to current information to improve accuracy. Today there are about 370 million profiles that have been built in this way, with the number continuing to grow.
When recruiters are searching they can either do so by qualities that they know they are wanting to seek out — or they can upload profiles of people who are already working for them (or for others who they may not be able to poach), in hopes of finding others who are just as good.
And so far, as a measure of its effectiveness, Connectifier has been growing fast. Sales are up 487 percent on an annual basis between Q1 2015 and Q1 2014; the company is now on a $10 million annualized run rate; the number of businesses using its services now at 482 from 107 a year ago; and customers include 40% of the Fortune 100, the company says.
Built by two engineers who originally conceived of the idea when lamenting their own recruiting headaches, Connectifier has had an especially early start in helping companies recruit engineers. That’s a field much in demand in our networked economy today, but Connectifier’s ambitions appear to be much wider, with other verticals where it’s finding candidates including finance, sales, and healthcare — essentially a focus on all areas where recruiting top talent is very competitive.
“We’ve seen the market for our core product — technical recruitment — is really huge, so we’d like to use the funding to continue expansion there but also extend more into healthcare and finance, as well as covering more companies and data internationally,” Jersin added.